Sunday, October 1st, 2013

Land Art - Journal Entry No. 12

10:37pm - Bottomless Lake State Park, New Mexico

The government shut down, and American citizens are both laughing and livid. How could elected politicians disagree so much that they can’t make a decision based on the greater good of the people? Now their inability to get along is affecting millions. Hundreds of thousands of government employees are not in office because they’re not getting paid to be there, which means that seemingly less necessary areas of their purview, like national parks, are closed for the time being. Unfortunately, that includes New Mexico’s White Sands, which we were scheduled to see today and- to our dismay- no longer can. We’re all really bummed about it. This was one of my most anticipated stops and one of the few I was aware of before hearing of the Land Art Road Trip. I’ve seen beautiful photographs of the area online, which promises gorgeous mounds of white sand that perfectly contrast against bright blue New Mexico skies. Luckily, with the leadership of Alex and Matteo, along with a team of educated creatives aboard, we were able to come up with an interesting alternative.  

Instead of visiting the White Sands, we found another attraction that the government had absolutely no power over: the small, yet well known town of Roswell, New Mexico. Roswell first came to prominence in the late 1940’s when an airborne unidentified object crashed into one of the town’s ranches. This small incident resulted in a massive amount of press, a variety of theories, and a great deal of national attention. The most outstanding speculation about the event is that the object was a spacecraft containing extraterrestrial life (yes, aliens!). Although there has been a lot of evidence disproving that notion, this conspicuous belief quickly became the small, middle of nowhere town’s claim to fame. Throughout the decades, it has spawned television shows, movies, documentaries and most of all a new tourist interest in Roswell. To this day, Roswell remains obsessed with aliens and nearly its entire economy is dependent on that little, over exaggerated occurrence.

It’s weird. It’s comical. It’s almost desperate. Roswell is made up of numerous alien themed gift shops that sell all kinds of UFO paraphernalia: t-shirts, key chains, stuffed animals, mousepads and more. Even the local liquor store offers a few varieties of alien beers and wines made right in town. There’s so many interesting spots throughout Roswell. However, our main point of interest was its renowned UFO Museum, which guaranteed an explanation of the spacecraft crash and alien spotting. For a good laugh and out of general curiosity in the town’s obsession, we entered the brightly painted building. The museum’s entrance alone alluded to what we should expect. Life size, hand painted alien cut outs were placed throughout; a cranky sales girl sat at the ticket desk. “There are no student discounts here,” she grumbled when one of our members presented his ID. Of course there isn’t. This museum has nothing to do with the government’s education system, so why should it offer its clientele a discount on entry?

The museum was basically one large space with a giant diorama bordered by a series of partitions at its center. Basically, the entire thing looked like it was created by an 8th grade class. The funniest portion of the museum, the diorama, was comprised of a few alien models standing in front of a crashed, disk-like space shuttle. According to Adam Brochstein, who had been to the museum before, there was usually fog that accompanied the piece. When he asked the ticket girl about it she whined, “Um, it’s broken.” Yet, Adam saw that it wasn’t actually broken; the power cord was just disconnected. The ticket girl could care less.

Walking through the series of partitions was just as intriguing. Each one showcased a different piece of “evidence” behind the UFO crash. This included a wall of artistic renderings of the occurrence, which basically looked like a bunch of children’s drawings. Another wall had all of the newspaper clippings from the date of the happening, which were more interesting than they were comical. Each wall just had bits of supporting documents tacked on in a very simple, elementary way; to be honest, a few of them did look legitimate. All in all, it was difficult to decipher if the UFO Museum was a gigantic joke, a fool’s tourist trap, or a real attempt at proving that what happened at Roswell was real. Needless to say, we enjoyed it and many of us bought alien inspired souvenirs to commemorate the experience.

Luckily, despite the government shut down, Matteo and Alex were able to find us a suitable camp site for this evening at the Bottomless Lake State Park. Aside from the mosquitos, it’s been a pleasurable camping experience so far. There’s a small lake where a few of the artists have gone for a dip, the Austrian DJs are free to bump their music as loud as they desire too, a warm fire is blazing, and in tradition of today’s events one of the group’s videographers is playing around with a drone. The smell of the mushroom risotto Evie cooked earlier tonight has lingered on to provide us with a delicious aroma. Everyone’s relaxing and having a good time. As I write this at the picnic table by the fire, Alex Getty and Alex Gerson are having a conversation on how this trip has changed them. Gerson, a known cellphone addict, has admitted to feeling free without technology. Getty is in agreement and now I feel it necessary to interject my own thoughts and gratitude. Writing my thoughts in this Moleskine as opposed to my Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail has been a blessing and I love this group for making the best out of situations. Even the government can’t stop us.

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Photography Credit: Adam Joseph Brochstein 

Adam loves eating five cheeseburgers a week. To be honest, sometimes its more. It's a fairly terrifying sight. But he only enjoys a cheeseburger after he makes pictures. That comes first. He completed his B.F.A. at the Art Institute of Boston. He now resides in San Francisco, CA where he recently completed his M.F.A. in photography at the California College of the Arts. He formerly lived in Boston, MA where he relocated from south of theMasonDixon line, by way of Boulder, CO. Adam is available for editorial & commercial work and is actively pursuing his personal work as well.

Originally published on Promote & Preserve